Rusal planning board changes to head off sanctions

Russian metals producer and manufacturer Rusal is willing to overhaul its board and management with the aim of persuading the US to lift sanctions announced earlier this month. If it fails, the world’s biggest outside China and Russia’s largest aluminium producer might be forced to suspend aluminium exports, Reuters reports, citing unnamed sources.

The US imposed sanctions on Oleg Deripaska and on several companies in which he is a large shareholder. That included including Rusal.

Rusal was understood to be planning to appoint a fully independent board that in turn would install a new management team. But there was no mention of Deripaska selling down his stake.

By adding Deripaska’s businesses to its Specially Designated Nationals (SDN) list – the first time OFAC had done so with a publicly listed Russian firm – the US cuts off their access to the international financial system. The downside is that the world still needs aluminium, and Rusal is a significant supplier.

Aluminium and alumina prices soared on news of the sanctions, hitting businesses around the world, including in the US. Last week the US said that it might remove Rusal from the list if Deripaska ceded control. It also postponed the deadline for the imposition of sanctions to give Rusal, and their trading partners, time to prepare.